A History of Topnotch Service

Humble BeginningsA vintage driver's hat

The Great Depression was a very unlikely time in our nation’s history to start a business. But in 1931, an entrepreneur named W.W. Estes bought one used Chevrolet truck and established a small, local trucking business hauling farm produce and supplies in Southside Virginia.

With no driver’s seat or windshield glass, W.W. ran his first load sitting behind the steering wheel on an upturned crate and looking through a discarded window.

From that tenuous beginning, Estes Express Lines grew out of the ashes of the Depression into a major motor freight carrier that even now bears W.W.’s name.

Building on the Foundation

Robey and W.W. Estes

The Estes family still owns and operates the company. But the intervening eight decades have brought dramatic transformation. Estes Express Lines has become one of the fastest growing multiregional, less-than-truckload and truckload transportation systems in the country.

This transformation didn’t happen by chance. W.W. Estes was resourceful and determined, and he was also a stickler for superior customer service. And much of the company’s early success was due to his ability to see the potential for trucking in the ever-changing economy of our nation.

By the time of his death in 1971, W.W. had over 650 employees who ran a system of terminals in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina that produced about $10 million in annual revenue.

His son, Robey W. Estes, Sr., carried on his legacy, and continued to grow the company. Robey further extended the company’s reach—expanding beyond the Mississippi—and enhanced its safety record, customer service and financial stability.

When Robey Sr. turned over the presidency to his son in 1990, he had tripled the number of Estes employees and increased the company’s revenue tenfold.

Continued Stability

Rob Estes stands with Estes employees

Under the strong leadership of Robey W. Estes, Jr. (Rob), the company continued to pursue a course of fiscal responsibility, steady growth and an unwavering commitment to superior customer service.

Rob knew that Estes would be even better able to compete if it could offer nationwide coverage. So in 2005, Estes added the West Coast to its territory. Direct coverage to the Upper Midwest was accomplished in 2008, which completed Estes’ nationwide footprint.

Estes is now almost 16,000 employees strong and boasts a fleet of over 30,000 tractors and trailers. With a network of over 200 terminals, we provide local expertise that extends to all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the Caribbean.

Through our Mexico affiliate Almex, and our close affiliation with TST Overland Express in Canada, Estes provides high-quality comprehensive coverage to all of North America. And our extensive network of air, ocean and ground services through subsidiary Estes Forwarding Worldwide LLC means we can ship to virtually any destination on the globe.

A Legacy that Looks to the Future

Three Estes drivers proudly standing with an Estes truck

What started as one man with a used Chevy truck in rural Southside Virginia has grown into a nationwide comprehensive and technologically advanced transportation company with a worldwide reach. Continuous improvement in performance, service and equipment has created a legacy of customer loyalty that has driven more than eight decades of success and intelligent expansion.

If W.W. could see the Estes Express Lines today, he’d be amazed at the way it has grown. But then again, maybe he wouldn’t. Creating satisfied customers and striving for excellence has always been The Estes Way.

History Video
A historical photo of three Estes employees with their delivery trucks in front of a barn.Watch this 6-minute video tracing the dynamic growth of Estes across our 80-year history.
History Buff?
Read interesting historical accounts about the trucking industry and Estes’ history, culture and people.
Through the Years
An old Estes truck and trailer
Explore the evolution of the trucks of Estes in our photo gallery.
A Legacy of Service
History brochure coverRead our history brochure for an in-depth account and timeline of Estes' legacy.